A graphic with the article listed just one of Aneesh Chopra's two titles. In addition to being the White House chief technology officer, a position that does not require Senate confirmation, Chopra serves as the associate director for technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a post that requires confirmation. Also, a graphic incorrectly classified the federal chief information officer as a position created by President Obama. The position was created by a 2002 statute. Previous officials used the title of administrator for e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget; the current appointee, Vivek Kundra, is the first to use the federal CIO title. The graphic also listed just one of Jeffrey Zients's two titles. In addition to being the chief performance officer, he is the OMB deputy director for management ¿ a post that requires Senate confirmation.
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Obama Critics Say Policy 'Czars' Skirt Proper Oversight, Vetting
"They are a poor example of a new era of transparency which was promised to this country," he said. "They are a poor way to manage the government, and they seem to me to be the principal symptom of this administration's eight-month record of too many Washington takeovers."
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, called on Obama to suspend any further czar appointments until Congress examines the duties and constitutionality of those roles.
Pence's call came after Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) introduced legislation in July that would effectively end the president's power to appoint special advisers.
Kingston, who has compiled a list of 34 Obama czars, said transparency is the issue. "These guys don't get vetted," he said in an interview. "They have staff and offices and immense responsibility. All that needs to come before Congress."
On the Democratic side, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.) wrote to Obama in February asserting that "White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials" and criticizing their "rapid and easy accumulation of power."
He added, "As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to Cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president."
G. Calvin Mackenzie, a Colby College professor who studies presidential appointments, said it is impossible to judge the effectiveness of policy czars through the years.
And although objections have grown with the number of special advisers, he does not expect Obama -- or any of his successors -- to be deterred from appointing them.
"One of the great advantages they bring is that you get people who are really loyal and the president is their only constituency," Mackenzie said. "Administrators in every kind of setting want that. They all try to have people who can cut through the administrative structures they inherit."